Hundreds of people demonstrated support for Israel in the center of Stockholm, Sweden.
The participants gathered Sunday with Israeli flags at Sergels Torg, a square which often sees large demonstrations. They sang Israel’s national anthem “Hatikva” in the square.
Fredrik Malm, a Swedish lawmaker from the Liberal People’s Party, referred to the heavy police protection at the event in speaking to the crowd, according to the Uppsala-based daily Varlden Idag.
“If this had been a demonstration calling for Israel’s destruction, this police protection would not have been necessary,” he is quoted as saying.
Cecilia Wikstrom, who represents the same party at the European Parliament, quoted David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, in her speech at the square. “Those who don’t believe in miracles are not realistic,” she said. The crowd was “proof that miracles happen,” she added.
The organizer of the event, 31-year-old Annika Rothstein, said the gathering was “not a protest against anything.” In an interview for the blog CiF Watch, she said: “It is a way of highlighting all the wonderful aspects of this country that we know and love and protect its existence in a time of confusion and disinformation.” Rothstein, who is Jewish and blogs in Swedish about Israel, coordinated the event using Facebook.
But Ulf Ofverberg, a Middle East expert, said that ongoing expressions of anti-Semitism in the southern city of Malmo - which has a large population of immigrants from Muslim descent - are “a stain” on the Swedish democracy.
Several dozen Danish Jews and non-Jews plan to travel on Sept. 23 on a bus from Copenhagen to Malmo to show solidarity with Malmo’s Jewish community. Last month approximately 400 people wearing kipahs marched through the streets of Malmo to show solidarity with its Jewish population of roughly 1,500 people.